Nazionale U21

U21: Colombo's goal not enough: the Azzurrini draw 1-1 with Japan in Castel di Sangro

At the stadio Teofilo Patini, Nicolato's side take the lead with a stunning left-footed strike from the Lecce man. The Japanese draw level ten minutes after the break through Fujio. Head Coach: "Good until the final third, we need to improve."

Monday, September 26, 2022

U21: Colombo's goal not enough: the Azzurrini draw 1-1 with Japan in Castel di Sangro

Lorenzo Colombo's superb goal wasn't enough to give the Under-21 side a win over Japan, as they drew 1-1 at the stadio Teofilo Patini in Castel di Sangro. They went ahead in the first half thanks to the Lecce striker's stunning left-footed finish, but were pegged back at the start of the second half through Fujio's headed equaliser. "We played really well in the first half, but we tired because we had put a lot into that half," explained the Head Coach. "When the team are well, they play good football, but even in the qualification stages, despite scoring 19 goals in ten games, we should have got a lot more. Up until the final third, we were good, there's still work to do to correct some things going forward. But these are the types of games we need, to compare ourselves against high level opposition. It's important to have these challenges now so we're ready for June."

THE MATCH Seven changes were made from the starting line-up against England: the only players to retain their places were Scalvini and Viti in defence, and Fagioli and Rovella in midfield; there was also a debut for goalkeeper Elia Caprile. Italy took control of the game immediately and had their first chance after 13 minutes with Udogie's right-footed strike going just wide of Sasaki's post. Out of possession, Japan lined up with five in midfield leaving Hosoya up top alone to lead the line, and were successful in closing the spaces, allowing Italy freedom on the ball to try and exploit the areas out wide through Bellanova on the right and Udogie on the left.

Yet, after 34 minutes, it was a direct, forward ball that caused Japan problems: Vignato played in Esposito whose attempt was deflected for a corner by Nishio. Two minutes later, Japan had a golden opportunity to go ahead but Hosoya's deft lob went just over the bar; Caprile seconds before had saved well with his feet from the Japanese number 13. But it was Italy who took the lead after 39 minutes: from Bellanova's cross on the right, Handa failed to clear the ball away and with the ball bouncing off Esposito, it fell to Colombo who struck a powerful, precise volley into the back of the net. Just before the break, Y. Suzuki's right-footed attempt failed to hit the target.

After the break, both sides made two changes: for Italy, Bellanova and Udogie were replaced by Cambiaso and Parisi, and Saito and Honda came off for Sato and Fujio. And it was Fujio who found the equaliser after heading home Kato's wild shot, that was destined for the corner flag. Japan's best period of the game followed and they should have added a second through Fujita, before some good individual play from Esposito ended with his shot going behind. After 63 minutes, Nicolato made another three changes: off came Scalvini, Vignato and Esposito with Canestrelli, Bove and Cambiaghi coming on. And it was the Empoli striker who played a good ball to Colombo on the 68th minute mark, but again failed to hit the target. Canestrelli, another sub, also went close but his header, from Cambiaso's cross, was well saved by Sasaki. The Japanese number one again kept his side level from Colombo, who was perfectly set up by Bove. In the closing stages, Moro and Ruggeri came on to make their debuts, and Ranocchia also made an appearance from the bench, but it didn't make any difference to the final result and the game ended 1-1.

SCORERS: 39' Colombo (I), 55' Fujio (G)
ITALY: Caprile; Scalvini (63' Canestrelli), Pirola, Viti (90' Ruggeri); Bellanova (46' Cambiaso), Fagioli, Rovella (82' Ranocchia), Vignato (63' Bove), Udogie (46' Parisi); Esposito (63' Cambiaghi), Colombo (82' Moro). Unused Subs:  Sorrentino, Turati, Okoli, Circati. Head Coach. Nicolato
JAPAN: Sasaki; Handa, K. Suzuki, Nishio, Kato (75' Hata); Fujita, Tanaka (75' Kawasaki); Y. Suzuki (83' Y. Kimura), Honda (46' Fujio), Saito (46' Sato); Hosoya. Unused Subs: Kokubo, Z. Suzuki, S. Kimura, Baba, Yamada, Matsuoka, Ohata. Head Coach. Oiwa
REFEREE: Sanchez Martinez (Spagna)
ASSITANT REFEREE: Cabañero Martínez-Lopez Mir (Spagna)
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Dionisi (Italia)